Brand Identity – Definition

Cite this article as:"Brand Identity – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 14, 2019, last accessed December 4, 2020,


Brand Identity Definition

Brand identity refers to the tangible components of a brand which help customers in recognizing and differentiating the brand from its competitors. These components include color, logo, and design of the brand. Most people confuse brand identity with brand image, but these are two different terms with different meanings. Brand identity works with a view to accomplish the branding objective, and create a specific perception of customers towards the brand. The way an organization selects its name, creates its logo, employs different colors, textures, shapes, and other tangible components in its goods, chooses the content of its advertisements, and offers training to employees to enhance customer engagement affects its brand identity.

A Little More on What is Brand Identity

Apple Inc. stands out as the most efficacious and awesome tech brands because it has proved time and again that its products are unique, sleek, represent status, and make its users’ lives easier. There is a close relation between the brand identity and brand image of Apple Inc.

There can be cases when a firm that is trying to create a positive brand identity fails to convert it into a favorable brand image. For instance, in the year 2017, PepsiCo. Inc. launched an ad that showcased a protest that somehow signified to Black Lives Matter, which was a movement to curb police misbehavior against individuals of color. The spokesperson, on behalf of the company, told the media that the brand wanted to portray an international message of peace, unity, and understanding.

However, the ad was referred to as ‘trivializing’ by The New York Times. In the ad, a white actress offering a Pepsi to the police officer for settling issues of protesters was brought into highlight, and received heavy criticism. Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. posted a tweet saying, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,’ followed by an image in which the Mississippi police officer pushed Dr. King. Consequently, Pepsi discontinued the advertisement, and asked for an apology.

Though this incident didn’t put much negative impact on the sales of Pepsi, but sometimes, the negative difference in the brand image and brand identity can have a negative impact on the company’s financial performance. There was a time when famous clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch experienced losses when its brand started being associated with inferior quality products, hyped promotions, and lurid logos. For instance, the company didn’t sell XL or bigger clothing sizes for women. The CEO of the company said, “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends.”

Similarly, a brand having a positive brand image can generate more sales, and revenues in a consistent manner. For example, Apple and Tidal launched two exclusive music streaming apps in the year 2015. Due to brand loyalty, both Apple and Tidal had to follow different marketing strategies in rolling out their services to customers. Since Apple was already a trusted brand with a huge customer base, it didn’t have to make much investment in the celebrity-based promotion like Tidal employed for spreading the message.

Reference for “brand identity” › Marketing › Operations & Success › Marketing › Glossary

Academic research on “brand identity”

Brand management in small and medium enterprise: Evidence from Dubai, UAE, Gundala, R. R., & Khawaja, H. (2014). Brand management in small and medium enterprise: Evidence from Dubai, UAE. Global journal of business research8(1), 27-38. The study aims to explore the owner-managers’ attitudes and opinions towards branding and brand management in small and medium enterprises across Dubai, UAE. The study also explores the causes that are acting as barriers to brand building. The data collected is through questionnaires from a sample of 62 respondents and interviews with Small and Medium Enterprises owners-managers. The research found that many Small and Medium Enterprises do not practice branding strategies and most of the respondents believe that incorporating branding strategies is insignificant for the success of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

Virtual world business brands: entrepreneurship and identity in massively multiplayer online gaming environments, Book, B. (2005). Virtual world business brands: entrepreneurship and identity in massively multiplayer online gaming environments. Available at SSRN 736823. Massively Multiplayer Online Games, also known as virtual worlds, have become increasingly popular sites for branded advertising campaigns. While most in-game advertising efforts involve established corporations working with game administrators to deliver targeted ad campaigns or the development of separate branded worlds, players who frequent some MMOGs are taking matters into their own hands by creating original brands for avatar clothing, virtual vehicles, event hosting services and more. Although amateur virtual brand developers typically have no previous professional experience with advertising or brand building, they use conventional industry tactics such as the creation of memorable brand names, product lines, logos and promotional web sites to create and communicate complex brand identities, spending as much as 50 hours per week promoting and managing their brands. With close readings of four member-developed business brands within the virtual worlds ‘There’ and ‘Second Life’, this paper demonstrates how each brand’s identity is deeply intertwined with its creator’s personal identity and the identity of its parent world. Virtual world business brands originally developed for their creators’ own entertainment have unexpectedly turned into profitable enterprises that defy stable definitions of work and play.

When David met Victoria: Forging a strong family brand, Parmentier, M. A. (2011). When David met Victoria: Forging a strong family brand. Family Business Review24(3), 217-232. This article seeks to understand how distinctive family brands are created. Recent studies in family business have focused on the benefits for a firm to be known as family owned or family controlled. Few studies have paid attention to the distinct meanings stakeholders associate with a given family or to how that family comes to have those associations in the eyes of external stakeholders. Based on a case study of one of the entertainment industry’s most successful family brands—The Beckhams—four practices conducive to building brand distinctiveness and brand visibility are identified.

Fool’s gold? The value of business awards to small businesses, Jones, P., Scherle, J., Pickernell, D., Packham, G., Skinner, H., & Peisl, T. (2014). Fool’s gold? The value of business awards to small businesses. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation15(2), 89-100. This study explores the value and impact that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) derive from winning business awards. Value and impact are explored in terms of enhanced profitability and performance, network development, enterprise profile and brand identity. This study employs a case study methodology with 10 SMEs drawn from a major business awards competition. Key staff were interviewed in these SMEs to explore the impact of winning the business award on the internal and external business environments. Additional organizational documentation and evidence were also collected from each SME. The results indicate both short-term and long-term impacts. In the short term, enterprises benefited in terms of enhanced brand identity in their business network and community. This resulted in enhanced sales revenue and enterprise profile. Moreover, internally, winning an award acted as a motivator for enterprise employees, enhancing their productivity and attitudes towards the business. In the longer term, these factors became less apparent, but the majority of respondents continued to exploit their business award for ongoing strategic advantage.

Identity lost? The personal impact of brand journalism, Holton, A. E., & Molyneux, L. (2017). Identity lost? The personal impact of brand journalism. Journalism18(2), 195-210. Researchers have explored the role of organizational and personal branding in journalism, paying particular attention to digital media and social network sites. While these studies have observed a rise in the incorporation of branding practices among journalists, they have largely avoided questions about the implications such shifts in practice may have on the personal identities of journalists. This study addresses that gap, drawing on interviews with 41 reporters and editors from US newspapers. The findings suggest that as reporters incorporate branding into their routines, they may feel as though they are sacrificing the ability to simultaneously maintain a personal identity online. For their part, editors seem to sympathize with journalists’ loss of personal identity but defer to organizational policies.

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